Killers in Mexico ‘can look like anyone’ as cartels use women, kids as assassins, PI warns

With the high-profile murders of three surfers in Mexico grabbing headlines ahead of the busy American summer travel season, a private investigator is warning that killers in the country may not be who you expect.

Cartels are increasingly using women and children to carry out violent acts, Jay Armes III, who specializes in kidnappings in Mexico and works cases all over the world, told Fox News Digital.

Images and videos of cartel members in tactical gear with intimidating military-grade weapons are meant to instill fear, but “the scariest part” of violence in Mexico “is the bad guys don’t look like bad guys,” Armes said.

“When you capture these people and line them up, and you look at their faces, they look like your gardener, the waitress who served you dinner at a restaurant, the little old grandmother down the street,” he said.

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Claudia Ochoa Felix, who was reportedly the leader of "Los Antrax," an elite killing squad with connections to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Claudia Ochoa Felix was reportedly the leader of Los Antrax, an elite killing squad with connections to the Sinaloa Cartel. (Instagram)

A man has been charged with “forced disappearance” in connection with the deaths of surfers Carter Rhoad, Callum Robinson and Jake Robinson, the BBC reports. Fox News Digital reached out to the state attorney general of Baja California’s office for the latest updates and information.

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Rhoad, a United States citizen who was engaged to be married in August, and the Robinson brothers from Australia were slain during a carjacking, according to the attorney general’s office in the Mexican state of Baja California. Their bodies were found at the bottom of 50-foot wells and their truck was torched. The suspects wanted the tires, the prosecutor said.

Three surfers missing in Mexico

Australian brothers Callum Robinson and Jake Robinson, top left, and U.S. citizen Jack Carter Rhoad. (Reuters)

One of the three suspects, Jesús Gerardo, was criminally charged with the deaths of three tourist surfers, including one American.

One of the three suspects, Jesús Gerardo, was criminally charged with the deaths of three tourist surfers, including one American. (Attorney General of the State of Baja California)

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It’s unclear if the suspects in the surfers’ homicides are connected to organized crime, but Armes said the cartels are employing women and children as young as 7 years old as assassins.

Young kids are kidnapped and groomed to be killers, according to Armes, who rattled off names of several infamous Mexican female assassins, like Claudia Ochoa Felix, known as the Kim Kardashian of Mexican cartels.

Felix was El Chapo’s “top assassin” and known for posing on social media with weapons.

WATCH: REPORT ON CLAUDIA OCHOA FELIX’S DEATH

Accused cartel assassin and Kim Kardashian look-alike deadVideo

“The use of women and children by the cartels as hit men is not a new thing, per se, but is becoming increasingly more common,” the private investigator said. They make basically a perfect hit man.”

Armed security details may not take women and children as seriously as males, he said. “That woman is not going to be looked at with the same scrutiny as a male would, which makes them sometimes more deadly.”

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Research by the International Crisis Group (ICG) supports Armes’ personal knowledge from being on the ground and through his own sources.

“Male crime bosses tend to value women for their perceived competence, respect for hierarchy and ability to evade police attention,” the ICG’s November 2023 report says. “Women’s presence in illegal groups has strengthened these organizations. It has also more deeply embedded crime in the fabric of Mexican society and within families.”

Johana Mary Hernandez was among 13 people arrested in Mexico for alleged ties to the New Generation Jalisco cartel in March 2016.

Johana Mary Hernandez was among 13 people arrested in Mexico for alleged ties to the New Generation Jalisco cartel in March 2016. (Reuters)

Michelle Angelica Pineda

Michelle Angelica Pineda, aka “La Chely,” was arrested in El Paso, Texas, and handed over to Mexican authorities for her alleged involvement in multiple murders. (Chihuahua State Investigations Agency)

The ICG interviewed women in Mexican prisons and found that women charged with crimes connected to the cartels increased from 5.4% to 7.5% from 2017 to 2021.

Armes says the number is still climbing, and as evidenced in the surfers’ homicides, women have killed or are involved in murders.

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As summer vacations and honeymoon season starts, Americans circle the white-sand beaches of Mexican resorts in places like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and others.

The strip of tourist destinations along the coast used to be off-limits to violence, but the rules have changed and warring cartels see tourists as potential customers, or visitors can end up as innocent bystanders killed in the crossfire, Armes said.

It’s important to “be hypervigilant” when traveling, he said.

Mexican prosecutor leading the investigation into the murders of three tourist surfers (two from Australia, one from the US).

Mexican authorities have charged a man with “forced disappearance” in connection with the deaths of surfers Carter Rhoad, Callum Robinson and Jake Robinson. (Attorney General of the State of Baja California)

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“If people walk into a place, and you get a really bad vibe and something’s just not right … and your instincts tell you to get out, you should get out,” Armes said.